Swarbrick and Bennett debate legalisation of personal use of cannabis

On NZ Q&A last night Chlöe Swarbrick and Paula Bennett debated the legalisation of cannabis for personal use. This will be put to the public next year in a referendum.

Bennett seems to have changed her mind. In May she refused to debate Swarbrick – Cannabis referendum: Paula Bennett on why she won’t debate Chlöe Swarbrick

Last night:

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick argues it’s time to reduce the harm caused by a drug market controlled by criminals. National MP Paula Bennett says there isn’t enough evidence to support legalisation.

The Spinoff:  A play-by-play of Paula Bennett and Chlöe Swarbrick’s cannabis referendum debate on Q&A

…they’ve come head-to-head on the cannabis referendum, with heated exchanges on social media about the issue, and Paula’s reluctance/refusal (choose applicable given your generosity) to debate Swarbrick, the Green Party spokesperson for the issue.

I’ll be perfectly honest: I came into this expecting, and kind of wanting, an utter shitfight. Two politicians, on relatively opposing sides of an issue, on the television?

What I got was instead… an informed, low heat, debate about an issue that two politicians are informed about, are passionate about, and happen to be on opposite sides of. Which is really nice, and comforting to watch.

Sounds promising. I will watch the debate and read the Talking points at The Spinoff, who quote the final statements:

Chlöe Swarbrick:

“The point that I want to leave people with is that right now we have the worst possible situation. We are empowering the criminal underground and we know for a fact that 400,000 New Zealanders are using cannabis on an annual basis and 10% of New Zealanders will have tried cannabis by the time they’re 21. The majority of people will have been exposed to it while they’re at high school.

“We have the opportunity to have some kind of control over what is currently chaos and the best way to do that is to legally regulate cannabis and to ensure that we’re providing those wrap-around supports and that potential for the disruption in the supply chain with that duty of care imposed on those who are purchasing.”

Paula Bennett:

“We’re kidding ourselves if we think that our teens are all of a sudden going to stop consuming cannabis because we legalise it. They’ll still get it from the black market because they won’t be able to get it legally because they’ll be underage, and the harms and the dangers will still be there with them. There are real issues around impairment, drug driving, what it’ll mean.

“What I saw in Canada was that the 25 stores that were in one province were not enough, they were estimating going to 1000 within eight years because actually people have a right to have access to it. I’m not sure if I want that in New Zealand, I think we should wait, get more evidence from places like Canada and then debate it and decide as a country.”

Debate: different ways of disagreeing

This hierarchy of disagreement is fairly accurate for blog debate and discussions.

That is from Big Think – How to disagree well: 7 of the best and worst ways to argue

A great tool, the web also seems to drive dispute. It is also a reflection of the larger reality, where divisiveness has spread throughout our society. A classic essay from one of the Internet’s pioneers suggests that there is a way to harness such negative energy of the online world and disagree with people without invoking anger—a lesson that extends far beyond the web.

Paul Graham is an English-born computer programmer with a Ph.D. from Harvard, an accomplished entrepreneur, a VC capitalist as well as a writer.  In his essay, Graham proposed that the “web is turning writing into a conversation,” recognizing that the internet has become an unprecedented medium of communication. 

He says this tendency towards disagreement is structurally built into the online experience because in disagreeing, people tend to have much more to say than if they just expressed that they agreed.

To disagree better Graham came up with these seven levels of a disagreement hierarchy (DH):

DH0. Name-calling

That can be done crudely by saying repulsive things like “u r a fag!!!!!!!!!!” or even more pretentiously (but still to the same effect) like, “The author is a self-important dilettante”.

DH1. Ad hominem

An argument of this kind attacks the person rather than the point they are making—the literal Latin translation of this phrase is: ‘to the person.’ It involves somehow devaluing a person’s opinion by devaluing the one who is expressing it, without directly addressing what they are saying.

DH2. Responding to tone

The lowest form of responding to writing is disagreeing with the author’s tone, according to Graham. For example, one could point out the “cavalier” or “flippant” attitude with which a writer formulated their opinion.

Stick to the material, Graham advises: “It matters much more whether the author is wrong or right than what [their] tone is.”

DH3. Contradiction

Offering an opposing case but very little evidence. You simply state what you think is true, in contrast to the position of the person you are arguing with.

For example “I can’t believe the author dismisses intelligent design in such a cavalier fashion. Intelligent design is a legitimate scientific theory.”

DH4. Counterargument

A counterargument is a contradiction with evidence and reasoning. When it’s “aimed squarely at the original argument, it can be convincing,” wrote Graham. But, alas, more often than not, passionate arguments end up having both participants actually arguing about different things.

DH6. Refuting the central point

This tactic is the “most powerful form of disagreement,” contended Graham. It depends on what you are talking about but largely entails refuting someone’s central point.

This is in contrast to refuting only minor points of an argument—a form of “deliberate dishonesty” in a debate. An example of that would be correcting someone’s grammar (which slides you back to DH1 level) or pointing out factual errors in names or numbers. Unless those are crucial details, attacking them only serves to discredit the opponent, not their main idea.

The best way to refute someone is to figure out their central point, or one of them if there are several issues involved.

This is how Graham described “a truly effective refutation”:

The author’s main point seems to be x. As he says:

<quotation>

But this is wrong for the following reasons…

This may be “the most powerful form of disagreement’ but it doesn’t guarantee success in a debate. Sometimes people just won’t concede an argument even when proven wrong. In debate some minds can be changed some of the time.

Having these tools in evaluating how we argue with each other can go a long way towards regaining some civility in our discourse by avoiding the unproductive lower forms of disagreement. Whether its trolls of other nations or our own home-grown trolls and confused spirits, the conversation over the Internet leaves a lot to be desired for many Americans. It’s hard not to see it as a social malady.

Graham also viewed his hierarchy as a way to weed out dishonest arguments or “fake news” in modern parlance.

Forceful words are just a “defining quality of a demagogue,” he pointed out. By understanding the different forms of their disagreement, “we give critical readers a pin for popping such balloons”.

We can all learn to disagree and debate better – more civilly and more effectively.

Paul Graham’s full essay: How to Disagree.

Q+A: Should NZ legalise recreational cannabis?

Last night Q+A had a debate between Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick and head of Family First Bob McCroskie on whether New Zealand should legalise the recreational use of cannabis (separate to allowing the use of medicinal cannabis).

To Swarbrick: What is it you want here, are you after legalisation, which would effectively allow people to grow marijuana, for it to be sold, to be regulated, the Canadian model, is that what you’re pushing for?

Chlöe Swarbrick: Yeah, so I think you’ve kind of hit the nail on the head there. We currently have a state of play whereby illegal drugs are unregulated drugs. people don’t necessarily know the compounds that they are purchasing or consuming.

So in the Green-Labour confidence and supply line 19 of that says that we want to see drugs treated as a health issue.

From the Labour-Green Confidence and Supply Agreement:

19. Increase funding for alcohol and drug addiction services and ensure drug use is treated as a
health issue, and have a referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis at, or by, the
2020 general election.

Q+A:

Chlöe Swarbrick: Part of that is the referendum on the recreational personal use…

Corin Dann: So Kiwis would be able to go to some sort of a store and buy cannabis for personal use?

Chlöe Swarbrick: Yeah. So we have the option of looking around the world. Obviously Canada is going to be doing this on Wednesday this coming week. I think they have a really robust set of regulations that they’re looking at.

They’re focussed on harm reduction. They’re focussed on education. They’re focussed on taking it out of the hands of kids.

I think that’s quite different to the rules we’ve seen perhaps in the likes of Colorado which are more free market type models, where advertising is abundant and you have door to door delivery services.

But what we’re proposing, as we’ve been quite strong on for a while now, is…providing the legislation first so it is black and white what we are going to be voting on at that referendum come 2019 or 2020. So we remove all grey from the debate.

So make it clear in proposed legislation what would happen, and leave it to us the people to decide.

Corin Dann: Alright Bob you have been in Colorado I understand, it’s been in place for five years there, very liberal cannabis law. What did you make of it there. It seems to be going all right doesn’t it?

Bob McCoskrie: No it doesn’t, it’s ah the statistics are quite concerning, I mean for example a hundred and fifty percent increase in hospitalisations for marijuana, increase in road deaths with marijuana related to them, they’ve also got the highest teenage use across all states, eighty five percent above the national average for the United States.

Chlöe Swarbrick: Where are those figures from?

Bob McCoskrie: From the Rocky mountain High report…

Chlöe Swarbrick: I don’t think in any way shape or form that is they way we should be doing things.

McCoskrie argued that we shouldn’t be liberalising smoking cannabis while trying to become smoke free with tobacco. He also seems to be against a referendum.

Arguing the Colorado model seems pointless if that’s not the model proposed here.

McCoskrie says there is no war on drugs.

He says that regulation isn’t possible.

Lack of regulation isn’t working here.

McCoskrie claims that the aim is the legalisation of all drugs.

“If we want to be smoke free, lets be drug free”. On what planet?

He argues against what has happened with the Portugal approach, arguing against success there.

McCoskrie says we need to reduce supply and reduce demand, as per tobacco, which is highly regulated. Swarbrick is arguing for regulation.

I’ll transcribe more later if I have time.

On Twitter afterwards:

 

 

Brash up-platformed in university debate tonight

Massey University received almost universal criticism and derision after they cancelled a political society meeting that Don Brash was scheduled to speak at. It was widely seen as an attack on free speech, with some saying it was proof of a slippery slope for free speech.

Brash got far more publicity than he would received at Massey, and he gets a chance to be in the spotlight at Auckland University tonight. He was booked to participate in a debate long before the Molynuex & Southern and Massey furores arose.

Coincidentally and ironically, tonight’s debate is on “Has PC culture gone too far to the point of limiting freedom of speech?”

Freedom of Speech Public Debate

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Freedom of speech is a value which is fundamental to New Zealand society. But at what point should we prevent speech which is offensive, bigoted, hurtful or that we disagree with? Has PC culture gone too far to the point where it is limiting freedom of speech?

The University of Auckland Debating Society is proud to present the inaugural Think Big Debate – a debate series which will explore the big issues in New Zealand Society. The inaugural Think Big Debate is going to examine whether PC culture has gone too far and is limiting freedom of speech.

Don Brash (of the Free Speech coalition) and Elliot Ikilei (Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party) will affirm the motion and Fran O’Sullivan (Head of Business at the New Zealand Herald) and Simon Wilson (Senior Writer at the New Zealand Herald) will negate the motion.

They will each be joined by two of the university’s top debaters. With Freedom of Speech in the headlines both in New Zealand and overseas you won’t want to miss this event.

Absolutely everyone is welcome at this public debate. Check out the Facebook event for more information.

 

‘De-platformed’ is a new word for me. In this case it has backfired and turned into upping Brash’s platform.

Stuff: Don Brash free speech debate in Auckland booms on back of Massey’s ban

Massey University’s ban on Don Brash making a speech on its Palmerston North campus has proved a boon for rival Auckland University.

Double the number of people expected to attend Brash’s Auckland appearance have now registered since Massey axed Brash and ignited another free speech debate.

The controversy has been a marketing gift for the otherwise low key Auckland function organised by the university’s debate society.

There is planned protest: Students and Staff to protest Don Brash speaking at University of Auckland

A New University has organised a public protest opposing the inclusion of Don Brash in a University of Auckland Debating Society event to be held on campus on Thursday 9th August at 6.00pm in the Owen G Glenn building.

“Brash’s haste to come to the defense of far-right ideologues Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux shows his commitment to the right to spread hate speech with no consideration of the consequences for those targeted by racial abuse and discrimination.

“Universities are legislatively bound to act as the ‘critic and conscience of society’. Condemning any platform for hate speech is a rare opportunity for the University community to fulfil this crucial role.

“The University of Auckland equity policy acknowledges the distinct status of Māori as tangata whenua and is committed to partnerships that acknowledge the principles of the Treaty. Hosting Brash directly contravenes equity principles and the protection of students and staff from discrimination.

“A New University calls on University of Auckland management to follow through on its equity policy and strategic plan emphasis on promoting Māori presence and participation in all aspects of University life.

“A New University joins the struggle of those at Massey University in refusing to accommodate hatred, bigotry and racism in their institutions. Universities must uphold the principles of Te Tiriti and ensure the safety of students and staff on campus.

There does not seem to be an obvious Maori participant in the debate, but that may be addressed froom four of “the university’s top debaters” who are as yet unnamed.

UPDATE:

Up-platformed and live.

Ardern – not too young but rattled

A  Herald ZB Kantar TNS poll shows that most people don’t think Jacinda Ardern is too young to be Prime Minister. Age no barrier for Jacinda Ardern, new poll says

The actual question asked isn’t clear, but here are the reported results:

  • Her age should have no bearing on how voters view her 44%
  • Her age could be an advantage as a Prime Minister in a modern government 22%
  • She was too young and inexperienced as a political party leader to take on the top job 28%

Youth and inexperience are not the same.

Not surprisingly older people thought she was too young or experienced – 43% of over sixties.

And “More than three-quarters of 18-to-29-year-olds either said her age was irrelevant or that it was a positive.”

The poll of 1000 people took place between September 13 and 19 and has a margin of error of 3.1 per cent.

No sign of them polling Bill English, James Shaw or Winston Peters on the suitability of their age or experience – or staleness.

Also NZH: The verdicts on the final Bill English vs Jacinda Ardern leaders’ debate

Audrey Young: Winner? Bill English

Jacinda Ardern was on the defensive for most of the debate, possibly because the 1News poll showing a dive for Labour knocked the stuffing out of her.

English won more points, but he didn’t shine. He wasn’t very nimble and it looked as though the campaign had taken its toll.

The campaign has taken it’s toll on many of us, but understandable the party leaders are getting jaded and a tad tired of repeated the same stuff over and over.

Toby Manhire: Winner? Draw

Ardern looked properly riled, challenging English to look her in the eye and repeat the claim. He was sticking with his hole, but gave a little ground.

She called him Bill countless times; he didn’t say Jacinda but he did tell voters they had a choice, several thousand times over.

…it’s hard imagine anyone having had their mind changed.

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Winner? Bill English

It’s the first time Ardern has looked rattled. She struggled to maintain her usually ever-present smile.

Ardern struggled to defend her plans on a number of fronts but performed well on the health crisis.

English has never looked so in command this campaign.

He attacked both Labour and the Greens for hopping on the water tax “populist bandwagon”, over-talked Ardern and pulled her up on facts.

Liam Dann: Winner? Bill English

Ardern never got a roll on.

English smiled and talked his way through the tricky issues like a Prime Ministerial robot.

In the brief moments where he was vulnerable – the fuel pipeline debacle, poverty and the imaginary fiscal hole – Ardern needed to go for the knockout.

In fact, never mind the boxing analogies, she needed to hit him in the nuts like a street fighter. It’s probably to her credit as a person that she didn’t but it handed English a clear points victory.

If you haven’t voted yet make up your mind and do it.

I’m going to vote on Saturday. I’m still observing and pondering.

Last debate, Ardern versus English

The last debate between Bill English and Jacinda Ardern will be on TVNZ 1 at 7 pm tonight. I think that Mike Hosking will be back running it after an illness ruled him out of the second debate.

English was rocked by a bad poll result before that debate, but it has swung the other way with tonight’s Colmar Brunton poll has national back up to 46% and labour slipping 7 to 37%.

It will be interesting to see who is finishing the campaign stronger.

The Spinoff:  The final battle: A fight to the death in the last English-Ardern debate

Duncan Greive:

What we saw tonight was essentially the entire campaign, distilled. English: dogged, stolid, indefatigable. Ardern: passionate, idealistic, frustrated.

English looks like he has grown into the task and is enjoying it, Ardern looks like she is just about over it – but she may have to pick herself up on Sunday and launch into another major exercise for a few weeks, which may launch into three years of hard yakker.

Simon Wilson: Ardern failed to land a death blow.

Jacinda need to crush Bill tonight. Land those body blows, leave him looking like he wasn’t sure what day it was.

She was never going to do that with reason or calm reassurance, and certainly not with relentless positivity. The defining characteristics of her campaign have been phenomenally successful, but at this point, like the campaigns of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, they have not been successful enough.

Annabelle Lee: The winner on the day was… that giant desk

Both Ardern and English gave as good as they got and played well to their respective strengths (him: it’s the economy stupid. Her: kids are living in cars stupid) so no clear winner other than the desk which could double as the iceberg in the remake of The Titanic.

Ben Thomas: A plodding draw

It was also a harder English that emerged. Rightly challenged on his characterisation of Labour scrapping planned tax cuts as a “tax rise”, he doubled down. Asked about the now-notorious $11 billion, he nakedly misrepresented the argument and its outcome saying economists agreed there was a “hole” (no economists agreed, either on the accounting or the metaphor). Hosking slumped in his seat exasperated, but Ardern’s response of surprise rather than fury failed to settle the matter for anyone unfamiliar with the facts (still a possibility even after the last few exhausting weeks). She called him “mischievous”, which fed into English’s narrative that it was all just a typical politicians’ semantic playfight.

Ardern’s own vision, expressed during the election period as a concern for the children in poverty and locked out of homes, didn’t make an appearance until the dying minutes. It was her strongest moment, but not enough to save the debate from being a plodding draw.

Madeleine Chapman: Please, god, can this be over now?

This debate was so boring. Usually I can do screengrabs while also remaining engaged but by god, I felt like I was watching a family argue at dinner.

I think a lot of people are over the campaign.

When Jacinda told Bill “look me in the eye” regarding his insistence that Steven Joyce (very much wrong) was right about the $11.7b Labour fiscal hole, I expected her to follow up with an “I’m the captain now” to make all my meme dreams come true. Instead I could only manage some uninspired memes from an uninspiring debate.

I think that most people have already decided or will still be undecided after this debate.

Climate debate

ndrew BaileyWWF has organised an election climate debate, starting tonight at 7 pm.

We know it’s 100% possible to unlock a safe climate future for all New Zealanders. Climate action is bigger than politics – but it’s election season right now. Will political parties come together to set a course for a 100% renewable energy, zero carbon future? Or will climate action remain a political football?

WWF-New Zealand’s Climate Debate is your chance to find out.

  • What: This election’s big climate debate.
  • When7pm on 19 September

Brought to you in partnership with Oxfam New Zealand and Fossil Free University of Auckland, the Debate is your chance to learn about the parties’ climate policies – and ask your political representatives the questions that matter to you. We already have an exciting mixture of speakers from almost all of New Zealand’s key political parties coming along, just days before the election.

Business journalist Rod Oram will be your MC on the night,asking all the candidates the questions that matter for Aotearoa’s climate future.

Taking part:

  • Megan Woods (Labour),
  • James Shaw (Greens),
  • Carrie Stoddart-Smith (Māori Party),
  • Denis O’Rourke (NZ First),
  • Damien Light (United Future),
  • Teresa Moore (TOP)
  • Andrew Bailey (National)

Youtube was hopeless, but Facebook is working.

Joyce v Robertson finance debate tonight

Stuff are streaming a finance debate from 7:00 pm between Grant Robertson and Steven Joyce. This may be challenging for Robertson in particular after today’s tax u-turn.

Ok, I’m getting sick of it already, same old arguments flying to and fro.

Robertson has just interrupted Joyce about five times in a row stopping him from talking. Waste of time.

Joyce is still claiming there is a fiscal hole, but seems to have changed his slant somewhat.

Small party leaders debate

 

Tonight at 7:00 pm on TV1 there will be a leaders debate that excludes the two main party leaders).

Taking part:

  • Damian Light (United Future)
  • James Shaw (Greens)
  • Marama Fox (Maori Party)
  • David Seymour (ACT)

This is the debate that Gareth Morgan went to court to try to get in, and failed. And Winston Peters thinks it’s beneath his stature to take part with minnow party leaders.

It will be moderated by Corin Dann (Mike Hosking is sick so had to step down).


I thought it was an interesting debate.

James Shaw looked like he really didn’t want to be there, perhaps a very hard month is taking it’s toll. He was a bit robotic with the standard Green spiel. And at the end when he said he was really excited about the prospects of a Labour Green (and maybe Maori) government he looked like it was his turn to change the nappies.

But he had probably the best line of the night.

Peters didn’t want to take part supposedly because English and Ardern weren’t involved, so in his absence the others took him apart a number of times.

David Seymour was dominant, too much so at times, but he had plenty of opportunity to promote his cause – enough party votes to get at least one fellow ACT MP working with him for the next term.

Marama Fox was the star performer, an informed, eloquent and passionate promoter for her Maori constituency. It will be a real shame if she doesn’t make it back into Parliament.

Damian Light’s presence highlighted the stupidity of TVNZ rules for who could and who couldn’t take part (Gareth Morgan would have made it a better debate), and his nervousness showed at times, but for his first time on the big political stage he did very well, stating clearly and knowledgeable what UF’s policy positions were.

All four who took part had a decent chance to promote themselves a bit, but on a Friday night the audience was probably not very attracted or engaged.

But it was a useful albeit flawed part of our democratic process.

TOP lose legal bid to debate

The Opportunities Party went to court to try to get included in tonight’s minor party leaders debate and lost. This isn’t surprising, it’s hard for a court to force a media organisation, but it’s very disappointing to see our state owned television broadcaster using ‘rules’ to be undemocratic.

The MMP system – in particular to ridiculously high 5% threshold – is stacked against new parties making it into Parliament.

TVNZ’s ‘rule of not allowing parties who haven’t got at least 3% in their last two polls to take part in the biggest debate of the campaign for minor parties is a disgrace to democratic principles.

RNZ: TOP loses legal bid to appear in multi-party debate

The Opportunities Party (TOP) has lost its legal fight to appear on TVNZ’s multi-party debate tomorrow evening.

TVNZ lawyer Stacey Shortall said it had robust criteria for parties to be involved, including either already being in parliament or polling at at least three percent in one of the two Colmar Brunton polls before the debate.

It is not ‘robust criteria’. State owned broadcasters in particular should have a responsibility to be fair to serious contenders, but TVNZ is denying TOP a prime  chance of being seen and heard.

TOP polled at 1 percent in its poll at the end of August and at 1.9 percent today.

TOP’s lawyer Francis Cooke QC argued the party’s inclusion in the debates was critical to the election process and TVNZ’s criteria should be more robust.

But the political-media system remains stacked against them.

Key points from Edwards’ affidavit:

24 Fourth, in my view the use of such criteria is self-perpetuating and antidemocratic. A party that is excluded from the debates has little chance of making headway in the polls. What is more, I think that excluding them from the debates sends the message to viewers that their views and policies are not worthy of consideration. I think this is dangerously undemocratic.

25 Fifth, this year’s election campaign is proving extremely volatile. Political scientists and commentators appear to be in consensus that we are witnessing the greatest polling volatility yet recorded in an election campaign in New Zealand. Therefore, it seems unreasonable to take two Colmar Brunton polls as a snapshot of likely outcomes in the election – the flux is just too great at the moment in politics to regard such polling to be definitive.

27 Finally, the minor parties seem set to play a pivotal role in this year’s election as they are likely to hold the balance of power after the election. In my view, this makes it particularly important that the public is given sufficient exposure to their leaders and policies.

30 In my view TVNZ’s exclusion of TOP would do a disservice to democracy.

31 If TVNZ proceeds with minor party leaders’ and young voters’ debates without The Opportunities Party (TOP), this will have a significantly negative impact on TOP’s chances to be taken seriously by those members of the public looking to vote for a party other than Labour and National. It will send a strong signal to voters that it is not a viable candidate for voting consideration. It may seriously affect TOP’s electoral chances. And given the inclusion of less popular parties, it would be arbitrary and irrational.

The full affidavit: http://liberation.typepad.com/files/affidavitdraft.pdf

The judge probably had no legal basis to rule in favour of TOP, but TVNZ are doing a disservice to taxpayers and to democracy.

Large and incumbent parties (and their supporters) and large media do what the can to deny newcomers a fair chance. Incumbent also have other substantial financial advantages.